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Thread: When Christians Quit Church

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    When Christians Quit Church

    When Christians Quit Church

    Lynn loves God, praises His name, studies His Word, serves His people and helps build His kingdom. She just can't be bothered to go to His house anymore.

    The Spirit-filled believer who spends many of her working days at Christian conferences is more likely to be found slumbering on Sunday mornings--or washing her clothes.

    "I'm sick of hearing pastors talking for themselves," she admits candidly. "I don't want to go and hear the same thing I did last week, sing the three fast, the three slow. ... I just don't want to spend 3-1/2 hours at church. I prefer to sleep in, do my laundry or prepare for the next week."

    Lynn is in good company. Thousands like her who by all litmus tests would be gauged as devout, even zealous, Christians are voting with their feet and becoming "stayaway saints."

    "It's not like I'm backsliding," she cautions, describing her daily commute prayer-and-praise sessions in her car. "Only people with a religious spirit who think you have to be 'in church' say that. I just have a hard time with the routine of it. ... It's not fresh."

    ...

    Observers trace several factors behind the trend. They point to the way the increasing fragility and mobility of the family has weakened the "brand loyalty" that historically meant children grew up with a strong sense of connection to the church of their parents.

    They also see the church-dropout wave as a barometer of the influence of the wider culture's me-centered nature as well as the unfortunate excesses of the "seeker-sensitive" movement that has aimed to make church less intimidating to people with no religious heritage.

    Says Larry Lewis, national facilitator of denominations for Mission America: "There's a consumer mentality that says I go to church not to give anything or to be challenged or instructed, but to be helped, and there's a tendency to turn the prophetic message and its challenge into the ear-tickling messages of self-help lectures with very little biblical content.

    "You can't reduce ministry to that," he adds. "We have a prophetic role that we must fulfill if we are to be true to our calling. ... I can't imagine Nehemiah or Job or Amos going down the street with a clipboard in hand and asking, 'What do you want us to preach about?'"

    "It's a biblical fallacy to say we don't need church," Rainer comments. "The New Testament pattern is very clear--that there was some type of formal gathering of believers on a regular basis who had accountability to one another. I quite frankly don't buy that church can be anywhere."

    But even those with serious concerns about the results of so many Christians bailing on church commitment see a potential silver lining in it--if, rather than just deciding that they don't like what church is, those leaving get serious about what they think it should be.

    "I'm happy that people are asking the questions," Hunter says. "I'm sad that it is keeping them away from church."

    Steve and Ellen, who say they felt led to leave their Spirit-filled church after more than 20 years, believe there is a growing "new counterculture of the disaffected and unsatisfied ... looking for something authentic, a real expression of the kingdom of God."

    They are still in touch with friends from their former church but now take Sundays as they come--recently hosting guests, going on a retreat, hunting and praying for the U.S. national elections on consecutive weekends. "We are just out here trying to be obedient to God," they said. "[He] is breaking us of reliance on anything other than Him. We are the broken, the needy, the helpless."

    From his studies of the phenomenon, Strom sees not just a bunch of belligerent, AWOL worshipers but "a grass-roots hunger for change in the church, for reality ... more than the latest church-growth stuff or conference."

    "They want to see revival, not some latest fad that sweeps through the church," he says.

    ...

    They're not backsliders, but they're not typical disciples, either, so what do you call committed Christians who don't turn out for the usual Sunday morning services anymore? Post-congregationals, says Alan Jamieson, who has done some of the most serious research on the movement to date.

    A sociologist and pastor at charismatic Wellington Central Baptist Church in the New Zealand capital, he began to study the phenomenon 10 years ago after seeing youth-group members drift away and recognizing his own growing dissatisfaction with church life as it was. He discovered that, far from being people on the fringes of the church, most of those opting out had been heavily involved. More than 90 percent of those he tracked had been in some sort of leadership role, and almost 33 percent were former pastors.

    Jamieson also identified four main reasons why people leave a church--cultural preferences, personal factors such as broken relationships, disagreements over doctrine and changing stages in their faith development.
    Full article

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    One of the main purposes of church is Fellowship. It's hard to fellowship if you don't congregate.

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    Do you have an opinion on this phenom, Turbo? Myself, I treasure the fellowship of my brothers and sisters at church (as well as the accountability), and am sometimes concerned for those that leave (as there seems to be a bit of a hazy, postmodern rebellion issue with some of it). However, I am reminded that there are many church-less missionaries about!
    The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyBob
    One of the main purposes of church is Fellowship. It's hard to fellowship if you don't congregate.
    Agreed! And to fellowship, we have to find a way to get along and agree, or at least agree to disagree. Some find that to be hard work! It may just be immaturity, perhaps?
    The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.

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    Over 1000 post club logos_x's Avatar
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    Steve and Ellen, who say they felt led to leave their Spirit-filled church after more than 20 years, believe there is a growing "new counterculture of the disaffected and unsatisfied ... looking for something authentic, a real expression of the kingdom of God."
    I've personally found that many times a churches' dogma doesn't match my own faith. This in itself is problematic...but if a church is centered more on dogma than spirit-led living, you find yourself in the position of compromise. You either leave, or find yourself in opposition to church rhetoric. many times this kind of situation splits churches.
    This is why independent Churches, home churches, etc. are growing

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    Currently I am just hungry for a church that is centered on some of the things I believe, but can still challenge me. And where I can challenge others.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Turbo
    Thanks for posting this. Post-congregational... that pretty much describes me.
    grace & peace

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky
    Thanks for posting this. Post-congregational... that pretty much describes me.
    That's kinda close to what I am. I attend a home church occasionally. Once in a while I attend a Baptist church.

    The home church I attend is pretty much my favorite of all of the churches I've ever gone to. I can fellowship with 15 or so people a heck of a lot better than I can with 500+. We're close on doctrinal issues, which is probably another reason why I like it so well. When you are in such a small church you can agree to disagree on non-salvatory issues without feeling like a hypocrite.

    The Baptists are fairly close in doctrine to what I believe. But honestly, although I enjoy the sermons and the music, when I come out of that church I feel like I've just come out of a movie. The participation is so limited and choreographed that it's almost non-participation. It's not just a feeling that I haven't gotten anything, as Lewis suggests in the OP article. There's a feeling that I haven't given anything either--that something has gone undone. Like I've showed up, gone through the motions, accumulated X units of "church time" and I leave feeling frustrated. It's difficult to put into words, but it feels as if church is over and some vital part is missing.

    If I were able to add one thing to churches as they exist today, I'd add the old Jewish custom of sitting on the synagog steps any old day of the week discussing theology, praying together face to face, not lined up like sardines side to side. I want to be able to experience my faith, share it with other Christians, live it with them, learn from them, and work with them personally, not just sit in a huge room full of people on a Sunday or Wednesday evening but as someone who is living and functioning as a part of the Body of Christ. There is a place for formal worship and teaching, and there is a place for social functions, but in the churches I've been part of, it generally stops there.

    This may not make much sense to some of you, but I have talked to numerous people who feel the same way. Something is missing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lighthouse
    Currently I am just hungry for a church that is centered on some of the things I believe, but can still challenge me. And where I can challenge others.
    I've had the same kind of feeling.

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    Over 3000 post club Lucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow
    when I come out of that church I feel like I've just come out of a movie.
    I've never thought about it like that, but that's basically been my experience with churches too.


    "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Crow again."
    grace & peace

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    I feel funny saying this, as I have avoided church the majority of my life, but I feel church is what you make of it. I have forced myself to get involved and to take a chance on letting people know who I am. If I just went to church every Sunday and just sat in the pews, I think I would feel like some of you. I don't do this. I attend adult Bible Fellowship classes, go to fellowship events and get togethers, do service work at the Church, call brothers and sisters throughout the week, go out to dinner with people from my church, and am a leader of a small group. A church is supposed to be an immediate family of the greater Body of Christ.

    I have really grown to especially appreciate the small group idea. I guess you could say it's kind of like Home Church in a way. If you happen to attend a larger church, I think small groups are the ticket.

    Again, if you sit in the back of a church, so to speak, what do you expect? I learned about this while attending Alcoholics Anonymous as well. I sat in the back of the meetings, complaining usualy, and didn't get anything out of it. It wasn't until I got involved and let people in that the miracle happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SOTK
    I feel funny saying this, as I have avoided church the majority of my life, but I feel church is what you make of it.
    Could not agree more with that statement. I hear how so many cannot find a church that fits them...not necessarily referring to those on here, but rather those I have contact with elsewhere. Sometimes some see everyone else as the problem...but do not see that the problem may move, every time they do.
    Just an observation.
    "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he MUST BE KIND TO EVERYONE...Those who oppose him he must GENTLY instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses..." 2Tim 2:24-26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow
    -snip- If I were able to add one thing to churches as they exist today, I'd add the old Jewish custom of sitting on the synagog steps any old day of the week discussing theology, praying together face to face, not lined up like sardines side to side. I want to be able to experience my faith, share it with other Christians, live it with them, learn from them, and work with them personally, not just sit in a huge room full of people on a Sunday or Wednesday evening but as someone who is living and functioning as a part of the Body of Christ. There is a place for formal worship and teaching, and there is a place for social functions, but in the churches I've been part of, it generally stops there.

    This may not make much sense to some of you, but I have talked to numerous people who feel the same way. Something is missing.
    It makes all kinds of sense to me.

    I haven't attended church in a church building for over 40 years. I am in church every day for at least an hour. Fellowship for me is a few local friends, telephone and internet.
    What's missing from organized churches? Scripture. Bible study. Teaching the word of God.

    Too many pastoral renderings sound like after-dinner speeches. Find a Bible verse. Forget context and history, then beat it to death for an hour or so with personal anecdotes. Emphasis on being entertaining.

    Politics. Who's who of the "Fellowship." Who's out - who's in -- this week.
    Brand Name Syndrome - Unless you belong to (name brand) church, you cannot be saved or you're not a "real" Christian, etc.

    Fundraising - We always need a new building, new school, new this -- and it will be expensive. The buildings have become the church, not the people in those churches.

    No roots. New-age, new-testament. Old Testament is outdated, update the Word to the 20th-century psychobabble lingo. Tell 'em only what they want to hear. Rev. Dr. Phil syndrome. Everything started with Hippie Jesus. No context for the truth. Emphasis on making people "feel good about themselves."

    Legitimizing sin - homosexual clergy, "It's ok, God (Jesus) loves you anyway", no consequences to sin. Relieve stress by being confirmed in sin as virtue. God forbid you should feel guilty about something you did. It's always the "other guy" who screwed you up.

    In short, the lie-beral secular political line, part and parcel, has entered the Body of Christ and taken root in the mainstream. Doesn't "sell" all that well, does it?

    Yes, :crow:, I agree. Something is missing from a lot of churches. He is called God.

    Psalm 144

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    Hebrews tells us "not to forsake the gathering together of the bretheren", and the word 'saints' in the NT is almost entirely used in the plural. There are literally dozens of commands in scripture that we cannot fulfill if we are not connected to a body of believers. We are not doing what Christ has called us to do if we are not connected to a body of believers. A church is a body, and we each are a part of that body. If you cut off a toe, what happens? It dies. And the body suffers. Both are negatively affected. We are to be a part of a local church body, to not do so, is to not follow God's plan for our lives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Berean Todd
    Hebrews tells us "not to forsake the gathering together of the bretheren", and the word 'saints' in the NT is almost entirely used in the plural. There are literally dozens of commands in scripture that we cannot fulfill if we are not connected to a body of believers. We are not doing what Christ has called us to do if we are not connected to a body of believers. A church is a body, and we each are a part of that body. If you cut off a toe, what happens? It dies. And the body suffers. Both are negatively affected. We are to be a part of a local church body, to not do so, is to not follow God's plan for our lives.
    Church, Greek ecclesia = assembly. Does it say anywhere that a "church" is a building?
    Jesus said that whenever two or more are gathered together in My Name, He is there also.
    "We are to be part of a local church body." Where does God command this? Which local church body does He reference? There are many in my area, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, AME, etc.

    Am I not following God's plan for my life? If not, how not?

    Psalm 144

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